News

Attorney talks computer law with DSU students, staff

Admissions

Good advice never grows old.

Even though many young people have heard the advice about being careful on the Internet, Dakota State University staff brought in a speaker on Feb. 8 to remind students of computer ethics and smart decisions when online.

“In the news today we are hearing more and more stories about high school and college age students who make a poor decision by posting an inappropriate comment or photo on social media or through a text message,” said Marcus Garstecki, vice-president for student affairs at DSU.

“We feel it’s important to remind students about the importance of thinking through their decisions before making a choice that they might regret down the road.”

Reminding students about their choices is what C. L. Lindsay does. Almost 20 years ago he left a New York law practice to shift his focus to academic freedom law. He founded the non-profit organization Coalition for Students and Academic Rights (CO-STAR). They now have 550 attorneys nationwide who work pro bono on 10,000 requests a year. Lindsay is also the author of “The College Student’s Guide to the Law.”

He has spent the last 11 or 12 years visiting schools, about 100 per year, in every state except Hawaii. “It’s still fun,” he said.

Some of the things students can do on the Internet turn into anything but fun, so he brought his presentation to Madison Feb. 8, talking to faculty, staff and students about a variety of topics -- plagiarism, piracy, privacy, sexting, and bullying.

“Often times students have heard this information before, but our hope in bringing someone like C.L. Lindsay to campus is that our students receive the message from someone who is nationally known for working in this field every day and can share real life stories that can make an impact.”

Lindsay did just that, using statistics and examples of actual cases and lawsuits to discuss these topics. Some of the laws about these issues are not great, he admitted, but he did cite local laws and guidelines, including South Dakota Codified Law and pages from the DSU student handbook.

His general advice was “If you wouldn’t do it offline, don’t do it online. That works 99 percent of the time,” because, “All the laws in the world will not un-take a picture.”

If something seems wrong, “Trust your instincts,” he said, “Trust your gut.”

He also brought up Title IX, the 1970s broad anti-discriminatory act. In the 90s it was expanded to include harassment and discrimination, and recently was expanded again to include sexual assaults. This led into a short discussion on date rape drugs, but “[t]he #1 date rape drug is alcohol.” He offered advice such as never leaving a drink unattended, and not drinking from communal bowls. In the end, it all comes down to consent, he said, and “only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’.”

The full student presentation can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EM78jXB0Ac.

The event was organized by Mandy Parpart, director of student activities, and Nicole Bowen, student support/wellness counselor. Student Success, Human Resources, Student Affairs, and Student Activities all collaborated funds to pay for the speaker, Bowen said. 

After a presentation on the DSU campus, college students Tori Martin and Logan Sampson visit with C.L. Lindsay III, a legal expert in academic freedom. Lindsay used actual cases and statistics to demonstrate wise legal choices about computer use with DSU students, and faculty and staff.After a presentation on the DSU campus, college students Tori Martin and Logan Sampson visit with C.L. Lindsay III, a legal expert in academic freedom. Lindsay used actual cases and statistics to demonstrate wise legal choices about computer use with DSU students, and faculty and staff.